Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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  • #1439537

    Joseph
    Participant

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    #1439541

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Burden of proof.

    #1439548

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    Oh jeez, the suspense is killing me; let’s just hurry up and turn this into a fight about Zionism already:

    The absence of evidence for the assertion that Zionism is true avodah zara is evidence of the absence of such a halachah.

    Thus, I dun disproved the OP’s argument.

    #1439790

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    True. But neither is it an argument in favor of existence.

    The Wolf

    #1441312

    benignuman
    Participant

    Absence of evidence cannot on its own be evidence of absence. However it can be evidence of absence when combined with other evidence.

    For example: Say I am trying to prove that I did not take a flight. If I first demonstrate that it is the regular practice of airlines to record the names of every individual flying on a given flight, I can then prove I did not take the flight because there is no record with the airline of me on the flight. In other words, the absence of evidence of me being on the flight becomes evidence of my absence from the flight.

    #1441459

    DovidBT
    Participant

    If I first demonstrate that it is the regular practice of airlines to record the names of every individual flying on a given flight, I can then prove I did not take the flight because there is no record with the airline of me on the flight. In other words, the absence of evidence of me being on the flight becomes evidence of my absence from the flight.

    One could argue that’s evidence of absence from the outset, not absence of evidence.

    #1442549

    K-cup
    Participant

    If what you are trying to prove creates a strong expectation of evidence, than the absence of evidence is evidence against.
    E.g.. it snowed all day and just stopped, but there is no snow outside. The absence of evidence to the claim makes it evident that it did not snow all day.

    #1442572

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Your title an excellent statement! I used it for the first time today, thanks to you putting it up here 🙂

    #1442925

    catch yourself
    Participant

    In the words of חז”ל,
    “לא ראינו אונה ראיה”
    However, absence of evidence is a useful tool when deliberately obfuscating an issue. It is especially so when coupled with oversimplification and absurd exaggeration.

    #1442957

    K-cup
    Participant

    Catch yourself: A catchy quote is an oversimplification and completely misses what evidence is supposed to be ie support a claim. Absence of evidence isnt evidence against is only because there may be other evidence. Certainly if you’ve ruled all possible evidence out, that is evidence against whatever was trying to be supported. The less evidence there is, the less reason to believe it, and as you rule out possible evidence, the less likely there will be reason to believe it. With is evidence against, as it moved you in another direction, even though at some point it is possible to swing the other way. Reiyah is a proof if I’m not mistaken.

    #1442960

    Non Political
    Participant

    So does it follow that I can reasonably assert that everything is made out of invisible microscopic unicorns that are so small, light, and move so fast that they cannot be measured? Oh, wait…

    What evidence do I have for this you ask? Who needs evidence. Absence of evidence after all is not evidence of absence. But I had a great vision in which the chief unicorn revealed to me the meaning of life. One you just take a leap of faith and believe that my vision is true everything else will make perfect sense. You don’t even have to take my word for it. Come stay for a month at the unicorn temple, eat some mushrooms, meditate, and you will experience for yourself a higher level of existence…

    The absence of evidence is the genesis of every false faith in the world.

    #1443036

    benignuman
    Participant

    k-cup and Non Political,

    You are confusing evidence and burden of proof. The absence of evidence not being evidence of absence (without other evidence demonstrating why evidence ought to be expected in this circumstance) is self-evidently true logical axiom. It doesn’t matter if there is or is not other evidence. That doesn’t mean claims for which there is no evidence are true. It simply means that there is no evidence in which to make a determination either way (in real life there are very few claims for which there is no evidence for or against). But the burden of proof will be on the person making the claim. So you can claim that everything is made out of invisible unicorns but the burden of proof (to the extent anyone cared to ask) would be on you. To sustain your burden, you would have to present some evidence.

    No faith or belief in the world has lasting power without evidence. We may also have evidence against their claims, the evidence may be fabricated, or we may dismiss their claims because prior assumptions, but the claims themselves will have evidence to support them.

    #1443040

    👑RebYidd23
    Participant

    Non political, if you’re going with unicorns…

    #1443236

    K-cup
    Participant

    I am not confusing it with burden of proof. Absence of evidence can be actual evidence if whatever you are claiming calls for a specific result and the result doesn’t come through. That would be evidence that the claim is incorrect. That is not burden of proof.

    #1443308

    benignuman
    Participant

    K-cup,

    That is true and consistent with what I wrote earlier. Absence of evidence can become actual evidence when combined with other evidence demonstrating what we would expect to find (e.g. a lack of a business record can be evidence that a transaction did not happen if you can show that such transactions are normally recorded). But that is not what you wrote above.

    #1443395

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    beninguiman
    “The absence of evidence not being evidence of absence (without other evidence demonstrating why evidence ought to be expected in this circumstance) is self-evidently true logical axiom.”

    I’m confused you had it right the first time with your excellent airplane example.
    Though you dont need to be that complicated.
    The classic example is if I say there is an elephant in the room (a literal elephant). You can quickly look around not see it and prove me wrong. Thus absence of evidence is in fact evidence of absence. However if say there is a flea in the room. Your not seeing it is not evidence of is absence.
    Arguably the elephant being a large visible animal that cant hide in this small room is “other evidence demonstrating why evidence ought to be expected in this circumstance” but tht is often the case.

    #1443436

    catch yourself
    Participant

    K-Cup,

    What you describe in your most recent post is in fact the presence of evidence to the contrary.
    If I claim that there is gravity, but unsupported objects fail to get pulled to the Earth, this is not merely the absence of evidence sustaining my claim; it is the presence of conclusive evidence that my claim is incorrect.

    #1443442

    Non Political
    Participant

    @benignuman
    “No faith or belief in the world has lasting power without evidence. We may also have evidence against their claims, the evidence may be fabricated, or we may dismiss their claims because prior assumptions, but the claims themselves will have evidence to support them.”

    Really? Then you know something about christanity that the catholic church doesn’t. The hold that to believe the ikrai emmuna of their theology requires a leap of faith and is not evidence based. There staying power hasn’t suffered much due to the lack of evidence.

    #1443446

    Non Political
    Participant

    @benignuman

    “The absence of evidence not being evidence of absence (without other evidence demonstrating why evidence ought to be expected in this circumstance) is self-evidently true logical axiom”

    I wasn’t weighing in on this point. Wolf already addressed it.

    #1443514

    K-cup
    Participant

    Catch yourself, the absence of evidence to support the claim of gravity is evidence that there is no gravity even though no evidence was brought to discredit the theory of gravity.
    Here is how people use the phrase “lack of evidence …”,
    Lack of evidence for theory A doesn’t mean it’s been discredited (not no evidence is not the same thing as evidence)
    However If I claim A because of observation B (usually how theory are born), and B doesn’t really happen, I do not need to evidence against your claim A, because you’ve given an expectation of B. Often, there isn’t an expectation of B. If I come along and say C is inconsistent, that’s evidence against.
    Bemigman, read my first post, that is what I wrote above. It wasn’t clear because the second was a follow up.

    #1443524

    benignuman
    Participant

    Ubiquitin,
    I used the airplane example because it has a clear line between the two bits of evidence (the habits of businesses and the absence). Your elephant case is really the same thing. We know that an elephant ought to be visible in the room because we have a tremendous amount of evidence that elephants are very large creatures that take up lots of space. But because this is so obviously true we don’t think of it as a piece of evidence.

    My point is that absence of evidence as evidence of absence will (logically) always require additional information, i.e. evidence of why we should expect to see the evidence that we do not see.

    #1443551

    ubiquitin
    Participant

    “My point is that absence of evidence as evidence of absence will (logically) always require additional information”
    I understand hy yo uused the airplane example. My point is even without that the reality is that often the absence of evidene IS evidence of absence. granted this depends on the statment in question and preexisting knowledge (evidence) regarding what I am trying to convice you

    but the reality is that there is always more information required for any stament to have meaning.

    If I want to convince you there is a flea in the room, in order for that statment to have any meaning you have to know what a flea is. Ditto for an elephant it isnt a special case.
    The key question is whether evidence should exist but does not. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” is only true if you wouldnt necessarily expect evidence of its existence, like seeing a flea. If you would expect evidence of its existence liek seeing an elephant then absence of evidene is in fact evidence of absence.
    thus your stament “The absence of evidence not being evidence of absence (without other evidence demonstrating why evidence ought to be expected in this circumstance) is self-evidently true logical axiom. ” while true, is quite limited

    I dont think we are arguing. I am just poitning out that your caveat “always require additional information, i.e. evidence of why we should expect to see the evidence that we do not see.”
    I s present so often that the rule “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” isn’t much of a rule at all.

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